Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Job 30:16-18

16 • "And now my soul is poured out within me;
days of affliction have taken hold of me.

17 • The night racks my bones,
and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.

18 • With great force my garment is disfigured;
it binds me about like the collar of my tunic."

We get ourselves involved with our ailments in various ways. Some of us like to catalogue them while others are in denial. Some are polite to the point of absurdity: 'How are you?' / 'Oh! I'm fine!' in every possible combination of accident or illness. Others are ready with the details of the most minor inconveniences. We might either find the longest Latinest name to comfort ourselves that we at least know what the illness is or we might shroud everything in Anglo-Saxon mystery: 'I've got the Lurgy.' / 'Well, there's a lot of it about.'

As they say and so we say dividing up our day ailments and our night ailments. Waiting for the morning to come so that we can get up and longing for night so we can switch out the lights and escape to sleep. What is this thing that has got us by the throat and is slowly choking us? In spite of all the cataloguing and all the mystery, our problem is Death, with whom we have an appointment, but who will not wait for his time before he sends messages of his impending grip upon us. If we were to answer the questions thus honestly we would be done with the 'How are you?' / 'Let's talk about the weather instead.'

Except that that's worse nowadays with all this talk of global warming, what we ought to do about it and the stark warning that in the last analysis there's nothing you can do about it. Death sends its shadow over us all and there is no comfort in it's prospect if we don't see beyond that fact.

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